29 October 2020.
President Ram Nath Kovind has promulgated an ordinance to constitute a Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and adjoining areas.
Aim of the Commission:
The commission will work towards better coordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the Air Quality Index in the NCR and adjoining areas.
- It will consist of a Chairperson, a representative from the Ministry of Environment, members from the state of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- Technical experts from Central Pollution Control Board and Indian Space Research Organization among others.
- The commission will have the powers to take all such measures, issue directions and entertain complaints in order to protect and improve the quality of air in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas.
- It will also lay down the parameters for emission or discharge of environmental pollutants from various sources.
- The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and adjoining areas will have at least three sub-committees.
Role of Sub Committees:
- Monitoring and identification.
- Safeguarding and Enforcement.
- Research and Development to suggest measures to curb air pollution in the region.
Action so far:
- On October 26, 2020, the Government of India informed the Supreme Court that a permanent body will be constituted to handle air pollution caused due to stubble burning in the National Capital Region. The ordinance has been promulgated based on this.
- The Supreme Court had earlier set up a one-man committee under retired Justice Madan Lokur. The committee was set up to monitor stubble burning in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Later the committee was suspended upon the centre’s information about legislating a body. This permanent body will replace the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.
- The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority was set up in 1986 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. It was set up to monitor the Graded Response Action Plan in Delhi.
- The EPCA is highly powerful like that of the GoI. It can take Suo Motu actions. It has powers to file criminal complaints in courts, redressal of grievance and issuing directions to officers. However, it shall not stop water supply or electricity or other services.